According toSaussure, an alphabet can be understood as a sign system in which letters playthe role of signs: each letter has particular visual characteristics and isassociated with particular sounds. (Allington & Hewings, 2012)Languages use different writing systems, such asEgyptian hieroglyphs in ancient Egypt, Cuneiformscript, invented by the Sumerians, and theCanadian aboriginal syllabics.

According to Hanley, English employs analphabetic writing system in which letters (graphemes) represent thespoken sounds of words (phonemes). (Hanley, 2010)The Englishlanguage uses an alphabetic writing system. A writing system is also known as orthography.English orthography is said to be opaque, it requires a lot of effort tounderstand. Acquiring English requires extensive practice. In the case oflanguages with transparent orthographies, such as Spanish, Italian, Finnish,and Turkish, a grapheme (letter) represents the same phoneme (sound) which thegrapheme is associated with.

However, English applies a contrasting rule. Thereare two explanations which answer the question why English applies an opaqueorthography that is difficult to acquire. Firstly, the spelling of a wordremains frozen to its original form even when changes occur to itspronunciation. An example for frozen spelling can be found in the word Autumn,in which the last sound n is silent. Secondly, when words are importedfrom other languages through the process of borrowings, the spelling remainsfrozen to its derived form from the original language. For example, the word Genreimported from the French language meaning type or kind. Unliketransparent orthographies in which the spelling is reformed in order to matchits spoken form.